We don’t know what our kids walk in the door with. We don’t and there is no way of knowing… unless…
- we make our classrooms safe places.
- we ask our students if they are okay.
- we allow our students to feel successful and enjoy our time and space.
- we teach to the eyes.
The fact is, there are many divisive and marginalising things that happen in our schools and classrooms every day, whether we realise it or not, whether we mean it or not. It is the truth. We cannot control it all, but we can control it in our rooms and in our teaching. Comprehensible Input is key to making this happen.
As teachers, we must make our rooms safe places, and I don’t mean that as a joke. So many times over my years of teaching I’ve heard stories from students asking for advice or help when a teacher allows bullying in a room, or is a bully themselves. We must be the deciding factor when it comes to the treatment of other in our room and we must make sure that the treatment is fair and inclusive to all.
The content of our lessons must be inclusive to our students. The context of our lessons must be inclusive to our students. Our classroom rules, whatever form they come in, must be inclusive to our students.
I plan to discuss some specific strategies for the day to day in a later post, but the key in my room is this: I teach to the eyes. The eyes of a student can tell us so much about what they are understanding, and going through. While teaching to the eyes, we can make quick changes to include more students as well as see just how effective the things we do are. Is a student whose head is down really just tired? Is he giving up because he can’t understand? Is he giving up because he feels he doesn’t have a place in our rooms? It is not his job to make himself feel included in the class and by the teacher. It is our job.